HC Deb 11 June 1952 vol 502 c177
5. Mr. Dugdale

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which seven British minesweepers were withdrawn from North Atlantic Treaty exercises in the Central Mediterranean.

Commander Noble

These ships, which are small wooden motor minesweepers of war-time construction, left Malta accompanied by a depot ship to participate in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation minesweeping exercise. One of the minesweepers was damaged by a fire in the battery room and defects affecting the seaworthiness of the others developed during the initial stages of the exercise period. They were all sent back to Malta in order that they could be repaired for further operations shortly to take place.

Mr. Dugdale

Is it not very strange, when large sums of money have been made available to the Admiralty for, among other things. the repair and upkeep of these ships, that these ships should be in such a condition that they have to be withdrawn in the middle of exercises?

Commander Noble

The right hon. Gentleman should be a little careful how he makes a statement like that. These ships were recently commissioned from Reserve. As he knows, they are old ships remaining from the war, and they are gradually being replaced by new construction. My right hon. Friend is awaiting a report on the whole matter.